Quincy Jones is one of the most versatile, influential and successful figures in contemporary music. As a composer, arranger and conductor — as well as a record producer and solo artist — he has created some of the most memorable sounds of the last six decades. Jones received an honorary doctor of humane letters degree in 2008.
At the same time, he has also emerged as a multimedia entrepreneur, blazing trails as a record company executive and as a film and television producer.
Born in Chicago in 1933, Jones joined Lionel Hampton’s band in the early 1950s and was soon arranging and recording for Sarah Vaughan, Ray Charles, Count Basie, Duke Ellington and other leading artists.
Pursuing a passion for music
He released his first solo album in 1959 and two years later became vice president of Mercury Records — the first high-level African-American executive of an established major record company.
Over the years, Jones has produced landmark albums such as Frank Sinatra’s “Sinatra at the Sands” and Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” and composed 33 film scores. He has been nominated for a record 79 Grammy Awards, winning 27.
He debuted as a film producer in 1985 with Steven Spielberg’s “The Color Purple,” which received 11 Oscar nominations. Other production credits include “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air,” “MADtv” and adaptations of Ralph Ellison’s “Juneteeth” and David Halberstam’s “The Children.”
In 1993, Jones founded VIBE Magazine and in 2001 published a best-selling autobiography. He recently produced the “Encarta Africana,” an encyclopedia of African and African-American culture, with Harvard University and MicroSoft Corp.